In discussing the benefits of animals, companion pets usually steal the spotlight. Study after study now shows how dogs and cats can improve your health as natural mood enhancers, stress soothers and immunity boosters.
Cats, dogs and other live-in companion pets are also talked about for their fun, non-medical benefits including their amazing ability to become our friendly morning alarm clocks or how they inspire us to try out new voices when we’re around them (even pitches and tones we never knew we possessed).
Yet, all animals – not just dogs and cats – have their benefits. First and foremost, each and every animal on the planet is here for their own purposes and in one way or another contribute to the benefit of another being. This type of assistance can most readily be seen with wild animals, especially keystone species and apex predators. However, we mustn’t forget about farm animals, as this often marginalized group plays a key role in educating us about the power of extending compassion to every sentient being.
Above all, non-human animals are not ours to be used as we please; rather we should look upon them more as teachers, showing us the true beauty of life if only we’d stop for a moment and take in the amazing world unfolding all around us each day – a world we are a part of, not separate from.
As a tribute to the remarkable non-human animals we share our lives and Earth with, check out the following 8 ways in which these same animals inspire and teach us to love and embrace live more than we already do.
1. Animals encourage us to greet the day with enthusiasm
Animals seem to have the amazing ability to wake up and just start the day as if the hours laid before them are pure adventure. We see this ability most often manifested in canine and feline companions, however pigs, cows, chickens and other farm animals also embody this enthusiastic urgency if only we’d provide them with more opportunities to do so. While a human’s life is filled with plenty of stressors and waking up can be anything but fun sometimes, perhaps by seeing how our animal friends face the day, we can be more inspired to follow in their footsteps.
2. Animals teach us to embrace others despite differences
Prejudice is often present all around us, whether we catch ourselves mid-judgment or observe another outwardly expressing theirs. Animals, while selective in a number of ways, are far more loving and accepting than we give them credit for – perhaps even more welcoming than we, ourselves can be at times. Interspecies friendships are probably one of the most common ways in which we can observe animals embracing others despite apparent differences, sometimes even overcoming strong predator-prey urges in order to care for another in need. If non-human animals can manage to set aside differences and help, then we certainly have the ability to do the very same and make the world a brighter place for all.
3. Animals remind us to forgive the small stuff
Us humans have the tendency to dwell on the small (and sometimes truly minuscule) bumps and roadblocks we encounter in life. Focusing on these little difficulties keeps us from moving forward with other tasks or onto new experiences which would help us grow. Non-human animals seem to have forgiveness down pat. None dwell for too long on issues; instead most seek immediate solutions to get out of predicaments, no matter how small. Their amazing ability to turn around and see opportunity in challenges is definitely a lesson that can help us live more a little bit everyday.
4. Animals show us how to be happy with who we are
Looking in the mirror, we could probably find five, 10 or maybe even 20 things we don’t like about ourselves either from a physical standpoint or from a more inward-looking stance. However, focusing on what we call “flaws” only seems to hinder us, forcing us to stay in an unhappy place and sometimes may influence us to pass this harsh criticism onto others. Non-human animals, on the other hand, never seem to give a thought to how they look or any self-deemed inadequacies. Instead, they are fully happy with who they are, living life despite obstacles like sweet two-legged kitten Mercury.
5. Animals motivate us to appreciate the little things
Going hand-in-hand with accepting who you are — which will undoubtedly lead to fewer frowns and unsettling thoughts — is appreciating the little joys and miracles that appear around you each day. In this manner, you can accept life as it comes instead of setting up expectations of how things “should” be. Our companion pets and backyard friends are prime examples of how to appreciate the little things in life. Observing them for just a few minutes reveals their innate curiosity at events they have seen play out many times before. However, every time they participate in these moments, their sense of wonder and appreciation is amazingly renewed.
6. Animals help us come back down to Earth
Often we get caught up with deadlines, errands and the general drama of everyday life which can cause us to quickly get swept up into a land of ridiculous expectations. Usually we need something else to remind us to come back down to Earth and get relaxed and calm again. Animals could certainly serve as our cue to do so as they always remain grounded, never allowing larger duties to fully take over their lives. They know how to keep things balanced and embrace “the now.”
7. Animals inspire us to welcome the company of others
Humans, like many non-human animals, are naturally social beings, yet we often seem to cut ourselves off from others either intentionally or unintentionally due to a busy schedule and other factors. This can result in short-term loneliness or even long-term depression depending on how long the isolation continues. By observing animals, either humanely via nature videos or in their natural, wild environments, we can be reminded of how important it is to have others around us. Elephants, orcas and dolphins have particularly strong social and familial bonds. Seeing these bonds play out and recognizing how important they are to the emotional development of animals can serve to kick us out of our isolation and remind us that we can do better (and feel better) when we’re together.
8. Animals remind us that a new beginning is possible everyday
Just as animals wake up each day with a new-found enthusiasm, they also seem to awaken knowing that the new day ahead of them is filled with opportunities to start fresh. They rarely, if ever, harbor resentment or carry fear into the following day (unless there is a perceived or continued threat) and new challenges are met with a reinvigorated sense of “I can,” as adorable two-legged boxer Duncan Lou Who has proved time and time again. What’s more, animals show us that each day offers us up numerous opportunities to be kind and compassionate. Perhaps if we followed the examples of other animals more often, we might just find the world a more loving and peaceful place.
With a comment below, tell us and other Green Monsters how animals have shaped and influenced your life for the better!
Image source: Farm Sanctuary / Facebook
They are everything and then some :)
Animals are a part of my daily life, they help me thinking as a teacher…